Who are you as a Project Manager?

From the The Battle-Hardened PM Blog
The Battle-Hardened PM examines traditional subjects in project management from non-traditional perspectives, in hopes of inspiring both the current and next generation of PMs to move beyond their limits.

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What would our world look like if it reflected the qualities of our projectmanagement.com community, where diversity (in all its forms) meets collaboration that strengthens and supports its members?  When we reflect on this question, we immediately know the answer – we would be in a much better place (to say the least).  So, how did our community become this pillar of strength?  Well, project managers, by their nature, bring people and resources (of all types) together to share a common objective.  So yes, it makes sense


Although we draw strength from our ethnic and cultural diversity, this post is about the strength garnered through our diverse professional qualities. I believe that our professional diversity is what fuels our community, case, and point: What would our community look like if we were all "technical IT project managers"? The answer, something that is lacking the energy to sustain vitality.  Now, I’m not picking on IT-PM’s, as the answer would be the same for any project manager subtype.

So, recognizing that our professional diversity creates the whole that is our vibrant community and that we are all project managers no matter how you slice it – I ask, who are you as a project manager?  To help you answer this question, I have put together a list of ten neutral qualities (i.e., neither good or bad), or to put it another way, “your brand(s) of expertise.”  These brands may be of your own making, or they may be ones that have been placed on you by others.


You may have many of these qualities/brands in your repertoire, but normally one stands out as your key value proposition.  Remember that our baseline assumes that all individuals are full-fledged project managers capable of executing a project under methodology.  If at all possible, refrain from making judgments regarding one quality/brand being better than another, and take an inventory from your viewpoint of project-self and then see if that matches your understanding of how others view you as a project manager.

  1. Business Domain Expert – Is considered a subject matter expert in one or more of the business domains the project is engaging.  This knowledge enhances their ability to navigate the business spectrum of the project and confirm the validity of deliverables.
  2. Coach – Keeps apprised of all activities, looking for opportunities to Coach (i.e., Challenge) team members to success when facing hurdles.  Their desire to make a difference at the personal and project level makes them very engaging and structured in their approaches.
  3. Executive – Demands a high degree of empowerment to take on a project.  Has a strong personality, is influential and often a great leader.  Relies on information filtered up through the team leads to make project decisions.
  4. Manager – Focused primarily on making sure the necessary resources are brought to bear on the project (e.g., people/skills, tools, equipment, logistics, etc.).  Enforces methodology with a strong hand, having faith that the defined process will take care of itself.
  5. Next Generation PM – Newcomer to the profession with at least one project under their belt.  Is not so interested in finding their niche, but is instead focused on learning everything they can to prove their abilities to their customer.
  6. Philosopher / Architect – Normally a key member of the PMO, reviewing approaches and practices coming before the office.  Keeps tabs on the portfolio and challenges other project managers when they see the appearance of assumptions and the like.
  7. Pragmatist (mixed methods) – Focused on getting the job done, and is not afraid of mixing things up, if they find it necessary based on the data and expert opinion.  Some may see this individual as a cowboy gunslinger, but in reality, they are focused on managing risk more than a pristine project.
  8. Process Specialist – Is highly respected for their technical project management skills and ability to keep everyone methodologically on track. Normally stays on the periphery of project activities engaging leads and subject matters experts as needed.
  9. Soft-Skills Expert – Engages team(s) regularly, leveraging soft-skills at the group and personal levels to motivate and gain knowledge of project progress and activities.  Believes that caring for the needs of the team lays a path to success.
  10. Technical Delivery Expert – Is considered an expert in the technical domain that is producing the deliverable.  This knowledge (when properly used) enhances their ability to navigate through issues and roadblocks due to their understanding of the problem space and their ability to communicate in the technical vernacular.

I recognize that these ten categories of qualities/brands are not comprehensive, but they represent what I have normally seen over the decades in my practice.  I limited myself to a couple of sentences to describe each one, but to give them justice, you would need to write a few paragraphs, and this would become an article versus a posting.  

So, giving a little room for “additional interpretation,” please let me know your opinion of these categories and how you scored yourself.

Posted on: May 24, 2019 04:34 PM | Permalink

Comments (3)

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George, thanks for sharing. Great, that you give us only positive categories to choose from. I can find myself a bit in all of these ten. And I think it is a good idea to have a one-man-retrospective every now and then.

Good stuff, It is good to think about who you are and how you achieve things on a regular basis. It allows one to let someone else take over when their personal strengths and skill set meets the project needs better than yours.

Thanks for the thoughful-useful PM type categories-descriptions.

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